ON THE RIGHT TRACK
The Philippine national youth team remained on the right track as it captured the championship in the 2016 Pacific Rim Basketball Championships with a clinical 59-44 victory over the PEA Basketball Club over at the National Huamark Indoor Stadium in Bangkok, Thailand.
The victory capped off the team’s perfect run through this competition, one that ironically started off with a hard-earned 77-69 overtime victory over the very same squad they beat in the finals.
“Yeah, they were big and a lot older than us. They had a 30-year-old playing in their under-21 team,” Joshua Sinclair, the former Sacred Heart School-Ateneo de Cebu standout who has grown to be one of the leaders of the team more popularly known as the Batang Gilas, said. “They’re a really tough team.”
Just a few weeks after capturing the gold in the Seaba Under-18 Championship in Medan, Indonesia, the Batang Gilas flew to Thailand to further hone their chemistry and skills in preparation for the big one — the Fiba Asia Under-18 Championship which will be held this July in Iran.
After barely scraping past PEA in their first game, the Batang Gilas kept its momentum going by beating Srinakarin Wirot University, 83-71. The next day, it thwarted the same team, 83-68.
Sinclair said that the experience of playing in yet another international tournament heightened their skills as well as their cohesiveness, both on and off the floor.
LONG WAY TO GO
“I think we added more chemistry from the Seaba trip and our plays are becoming more crisp and precise. We just have to keep playing and practicing together as much as possible in preparation for Fiba. The teams in this tournament were also a lot tougher than the Seaba teams so it was a good learning experience for us,” narrated Sinclair, now a recruit of the National University Bulldogs. “It was good that we were able to win all our games.
Our main goal wasn’t to win this tournament but to grow as a team in preparation for Fiba Asia, so winning was just a bonus. I feel as if this tournament really helped us improve.”
Theo Joshua Flores, another Cebuano on the team, said that he and the rest of the squad have a long way to go before they get in peak form to battle Asia’s powerhouses.
“As of now, we’re not yet at the level that we want to be at for the Fiba Asia tournament. But playing in Thailand helped us become smarter since we had to battle players who were bigger and older than us,” said the former University of the Visayas product, who is now also suiting up for NU.
“We’re doing well on offense. But we had a lot of lapses on defense and we need to work on that in practice,” he added.
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